INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The complaint filed in federal court by Police Officer De’Joure Mercer of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department alleges that the NFL used at least one televised video broadcast along with tweets and posts on the league’s social media sites that included the suggest Dreasjon Reed died on May 6, 2020 as a result of police misconduct.
But a grand jury declined to bring charges against Mercer, and an internal investigation found that he was following IMPD guidelines.
Guy Relford is one of the attorneys representing Mercer.
“The NFL started this whole campaign that accused Officer Mercer of understanding he was acquitted but declared Dreasjon Reed a victim of police misconduct and systemic racism. And here you are a black cop, you have defended your life and the lives of your co-workers and now you are being charged with police misconduct, ”Relford said.
According to Relford, the lawsuit focuses on a series of tweets and videos that have appeared on the NFL’s social media sites. A three-minute video broadcast on television shows a picture of Reed in his army uniform, as the narrator says, “A mission to go beyond their names, to dig deeper, to reveal who they really were and why they weren’t are with us longer. ”
“And this campaign was inevitable. You couldn’t turn on the TV or go to social media without seeing it and it had a devastating effect on you [Mercer]”Said Relford.
Relford says Mercer received a number of threats that increased by the time the NFL’s social justice campaign was well underway. He referred to a tweet on the NFL’s Twitter page last December with a picture of Reed. The tweet said, “Dreasjon is one of the many people honored by players and coaches through the NFL’s helmet sticker program this season.”
Colts owner Jim Irsay took to Twitter to deny the NFL’s claim.
I-Team 8 spoke to Indiana University law professor Joe Tomain about the case. Tomain says the case could have an uphill battle.
“From a legal perspective, this will be a difficult case for Officer Mercer and his attorneys,” said Tomain.
Tomain says there are a couple of major hurdles: # 1, was there actually a defamatory statement by the NFL? If so, was it addressed to Officer Mercer and should the statement harm Mercer?
“The burden of proof in this case is very likely willful intent, which is an incredibly heavy burden of proof,” added Tomain.
I-Team 8 asked IMPD and the Colts for comment. Both said they were not named in the lawsuit and declined to comment on any pending litigation.
The law firm representing Dreasjon Reed’s family sent a statement late Tuesday afternoon.
“We examined with dismay the 32-page lawsuit filed by Officer De’Joure Mercer against the NFL. The grand jury’s decision not to file a criminal complaint does not mean that Officer Mercer was not responsible for Dreasjon’s death. In fact, it only confirmed what we all already knew, that the grand jury system often favors the police.
We’re sure the NFL is more than capable of defending itself. However, we are more concerned that Dreasjon is not here to defend himself against the version of events set out in this lawsuit. Officer Mercer is currently being sued in federal court, but that lawsuit won’t bring the justice Dreasjon deserves. It is precisely for this reason that we need the FBI to intervene, and it is precisely for this reason that we contacted the Justice Department to reopen the investigation into Dreasjon’s death. “
Fatima Johnson law firm, lawyers for Dreasjon Reed’s family